Divorce for permanent alteration of marital bond

Verified 28 July 2023 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

If you wish to divorce but your husband does not agree, you can initiate divorce proceedings for permanent alteration of the marital relationship. This procedure is possible if you have been living apart from your spouse for at least 1 year.

If you can't not divorce for fault (in the absence of fault) and your husband refuses to divorce, you can apply for divorce for permanent alteration of the marital relationship.

This divorce does not require the agreement of the two spouses and you don't have to give reasons for your separation.

You just have to prove that the common life has ceased for at least 1 year.

The divorce proceedings takes place before the family court judge, who must be seized by subpoena or by request joint.

If you are the applicant spouse divorce you need to get a lawyer.

If you are the defendant spouse divorce, you also need to get a lawyer if you want to be represented in the procedure.

Except in exceptional circumstances, a spouse who applies for divorce on the grounds of permanent alteration of the conjugal relationship must prove that he has not lived with his spouse for more than 1 year.

How is the 1-year period calculated?

You must no longer live with your husband for at least 1 year when you file your divorce application.

If you didn't give that reason divorce in your original application, the 1-year period shall start from the date on which the divorce application is lodged. In this case, the divorce judgment cannot be delivered before the expiry of the 1-year period since the filing of the application.

In which case the 1-year period does not apply?

If one of the spouses applies for divorce on the basis of the permanent alteration of the conjugal relationship and the other spouse on another basis (divorce for misconduct), the 1-year period is not to be respected.


Reconciliation with resumption of life together cancels the elapsed time.

You have to prove by any means that life together has ceased.

Your separation must be material. You must not no more living together with your husband.

To prove it, you can produce a different lease contract, gas or electricity bills, a proof of accommodation by a relative, a statement of Commissioner of Justice, witness attestations ...

The break-up of your common life must be voluntary.

It is up to the family judge to determine whether or not the elements produced characterize the fact that the common life has ceased.

The husband who wishes refer to non-compliance with the 1-year deadline necessary for the delivery of the divorce must mention it to the judge. The judge cannot see for himself.


The judge can only identify the non-compliance with the 1-year deadline if your spouse does not participate in the divorce proceedings, i.e. if he or she has not taken a lawyer.

The husband defendant to a divorce for permanent alteration of the conjugal relationship may request damages.

He can only do that if he has not himself filed a divorce application separate from the original application her husband.

Damages may be awarded to the defendant spouse in compensation for the particularly serious consequences suffered by him as a result of the dissolution of the marriage.

At any time during the proceedings, you can change your divorce. It's called a footbridge.

If you find an agreement with your husband, you can change for a divorce by mutual consent, or a procedure for divorce for acceptance of the principle of marriage breakdown.

If your spouse makes an application in fault divorce, you can also change the reason for your request. In that case you you can also apply for divorce on the grounds of fault invoking your husband's mistakes.


if an application for divorce for permanent alteration of the marital relationship and another application for fault are filed at the same time, the judge first considers the application for fault. If the application for divorce is rejected on the grounds of fault, the court then rules on the application for divorce on grounds of permanent alteration of the marital relationship.

Legal costs

The cost varies depending on the lawyer's fees.

If you don't have enough resources to pay for the divorce, you can benefit from legal aid.

The costs of the instance shall be borne by the husband who initiated the procedureunless the judge decides otherwise.

Right to share

When the spouses divorce, they must share assets which they had together (movable, financial and immovable property).

The division of movable and immovable property is subject to a registration fee or a tax of land advertising of 1.10%.


for assets less than or equal to €5,000, the right of sharing shall be fixed at a flat rate at €125.

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